Donald Trump gestures during the presidential debate.

Facebook Bans Trump For Two Years, Changes Hate Speech Policies for Politicians

That feeling when Facebook cares more about accountability than Congress.
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Social media, once instrumental in building Donald Trump’s cult-like following, is finally holding him accountable. But that accountability has an expiration. Trump, who had been banned indefinitely from Facebook and Instagram, is now banned for the next two years, which could allow him to return to his digital reign of terror in January 2023, just in time for the 2024 presidential election. Trump has yet to officially announce that he’s running for president again, but he remains at the top of the list for many Republican voters.

This two-year ban comes after Facebook’s Oversight Board found that the company’s indefinite ban on Trump was “not appropriate” and gave Facebook 6 months to either make the ban permanent or reinstate Trump’s accounts.

Nick Clegg, the VP of Global Affairs, released a statement saying, “We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year … At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”

Clegg added, “We know that any penalty we apply — or choose not to apply — will be controversial. There are many people who believe it was not appropriate for a private company like Facebook to suspend an outgoing President from its platform, and many others who believe Mr. Trump should have immediately been banned for life. We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide — but our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

Facebook has also announced that they will change their policy rules regarding “newsworthiness exemptions,” which allowed politicians to publish posts featuring discrimination, hate speech, and bullying. This means that politicians on Facebook are finally subject to the same content moderation and hate speech policies as the rest of us. This change comes from Trump’s incitement of the January 6 Capitol riots, as well as the current political unrest in India, where Facebook has become a mouthpiece for virulent attacks on the Rohingya Muslim community.

The social media giant also promised more transparency with their policies and restrictions, specifically their two-strike rule for violations. The Oversight Board gave the company 19 recommendations, and Facebook has decided to comply with 15 of them. Most notably, they are refusing to publish a full report of their involvement in the January 6 insurrection attempt. Many domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers planned and coordinated their Janaury 6 plans via the social media site, and while Facebook will not hold an investigation, they’ve said they would cooperate with investigations currently underway with law enforcement and academics.

Facebook’s 2-year ban on Donald Trump, who is currently under indefinite ban on sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, is a weak attempt to appease both political parties. Republicans have increasingly criticized Facebook and other social media sites for censorship and having an anti-conservative bias. But is it actually bias when conservative posts and pundits disseminate more lies and misinformation than their liberal counterparts? If anything, conservatives and right-wing outlets get MORE preferential treatment from Facebook, which was revealed in a Buzzfeed News investigation.

Facebook’s response is yet another desperate attempt at shoehorning both-sidesism into the cultural conversation. It’s impossible to treat two political parties equally when one subscribes to outright lies and conspiracy theories. And it’s impossible to compromise or legislate effectively when one party is consistently working to dismantle our democracy. In the meantime, republicans will continue their bad faith agenda and cry censorship every time they get penalized for lying.

The deplatforming of Trump has dramatically reduced the constant noise level of American politics. At least he still has his blog though. Oh wait … never mind.

(via Washington Post, image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.